What the Fauci?

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is hawking campaign merchandise that calls out Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, as well as the mask guidelines that were rolled out across most of the country last year to slow the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. 

The gear includes $21 T-shirts and $12 drink koozies that say, “Don’t Fauci My Florida.” Some pieces include the tagline “Keep Florida Free.” There’s also a beverage cooler that reads, “How the hell am I going to be able to drink a beer with a mask on?” — which is a quote from DeSantis, himself. 

Meanwhile, the Sunshine State has been experiencing a spike in new COVID-19 cases, and recording almost four times the average number of daily cases of the coronavirus in the U.S., according to The Washington Post. What’s more, the death rate from COVID-19 in Florida is almost double the national average, and the state ranks fourth in the number of COVID hospitalizations. There have been more than 2.4 million coronavirus cases reported in Florida, and more than 38,000 deaths.

Coronavirus Update: Delta variant drove COVID-19 cases higher across the globe last week — including in the U.S.

DeSantis has drawn controversy throughout the pandemic for refusing to enforce mask mandates across the state. He has also criticized Dr. Fauci for what he considered contradictory guidelines on face masks. And DeSantis was one of the first governors to reopen his state’s economy last year.

Critics slammed the campaign merch on social media on Wednesday afternoon, and “Don’t Fauci My Florida” was trending on Twitter
TWTR,
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with almost 9,000 tweets. The hashtag #DeathSantis, a riff on his last name, was also trending with close to 14,000 tweets. 

DeSantis is up for re-election next year. He’s also expected to vie for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, with the latest odds giving him a slight edge over former President Donald Trump. 

Read more: Betting markets see DeSantis as 2024 Republican presidential nominee, while Trump’s company faces charges

Meanwhile, DeSantis met with President Joe Biden last week in a briefing about the Florida condo collapse. The governor thanked Biden, saying: “You recognized the severity of this tragedy from Day One, and you’ve been very supportive.”

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